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Farmers Insurance Exchange v. CenterPoint Energy Resources

CetnerPoint Energy Resources
March 24, 2011
The facts.

On January 25, 2007, a gas explosion damaged the Quail Valley home of plaintiffs James and Jo Anne Cronin and several other homes. Other than the Cronins, the plaintiffs were subrogees of the homeowners.

CenterPoint Energy had installed a main gas line in front of subrogor Mary Ann Smith's house in June 1971. At some point thereafter, a lateral sewer line had been placed directly under the main, and a coupling was installed on the main. On January 25, 2007, this coupling migrated into Smith's house and exploded. Smith's house was leveled, and several others were damaged. Homeowners' insurance carriers Farmers Insurance Exchange, Allsate Texas Lloyds Co., USAA Texas Lloyds Co., and Foremost Lloyds of Texas paid for property damage and became subrogees.

The Cronins and the subrogees sued CenterPoint Energy Resources Corp. for improper installation of the coupling or failure to detect and remedy the improper installation.

CenterPoint denied installing the coupling. According to CenterPoint, someone damaged the line, probably during development of the subdivision,, and repaired the damage with the coupling. CenterPoint said it had no record of installing the coupling.

Also, fire department records said Smith smelled gas when she arrived home on the 25th, and Centerpoint argued that she should have called Centerpoint to report it.

The damages.

The only claims were for property damage, which was stipulated at $3.5 million.

 The verdict.

Jury found negligence by Smith alone and not Centerpoint.